Lake Washington School District presents draft budget

July 3, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: July 3, 11:17 a.m.

After years of difficult budget times, the Lake Washington School Board heard a proposal for a budget that calls for new spending and restoration of old programs and positions.
At the June 23 board meeting, Barbara Posthumous, the district’s director of business services, laid out an overview of the district’s draft $378 million spending plan.
The vast majority of the district’s funding, about 64 percent, comes from the state. Local levy dollars represent about 22 percent, federal funding 5.5 percent, and the rest comes from fees and other sources.
She noted that in 2008, before the recession, local funding accounted for only 17.9 percent of funding. That number rose to a peak of 22.9 percent in 2012, as state funding dried up and local tax levies picked up the slack, before declining to current levels.
Posthumous spent the bulk of her time talking about the $271.9 million general fund budget. The general fund pays for the vast majority of the district’s expenses, including day-to-day operations and employee salaries.
The district expects to see about $17.1 million more in revenues for its general fund. Of that, $7.5 million will come from local sources, $8.2 million from state funding, and the rest from grants and fee-based programs.
Overall, revenues are projected to go up by 6.7 percent to $273.4 million.
General fund expenditures would go up by 5.1 percent under the plan, Posthumous said, largely because more students keep coming to Lake Washington schools.
About $3.8 million of the general fund increase of $18.3 million is related to the staffing needs to accommodate the increased number of students.
The district proposes adding more than 66 new positions next year (see sidebar), not including classroom teachers. (Teacher funding is dependent on enrollment, and comes directly from the state, so adding a new teacher is not a district expense.)
“Enrollment is the biggest driver of expenditures and revenues,” she said.
The district is predicting total enrollment to increase from 25,571 this year to 26,367 next year – an increase of 796 students (3.2 percent).
Superintendent Traci Pierce laid out reasons for other spending increases. She explained each in terms of how they would align with the district’s overall strategic goals, such as providing a safe learning environment, hiring high-quality teachers, and finding ways to ensure academic success for all students.
The budget calls for purchasing a new curriculum for special-education literacy, and printing costs to support that program. It also calls for adding an administrator to support all curricula on a district-wide basis.
More funding is set aside to allow a seven-period day in high schools; develop a kindergarten and first-grade program for gifted students; and allow common advanced placement classes in all high schools.
The district also wants to explore alternatives to suspension as a form of discipline, and includes funding for allowing in-school suspensions.
Funding is also set aside to meet a state mandate to increase annual instructional time to 1,027 hours per year, Pierce said. The budget would increase high-school athletics directors’ positions from a 0.8 position to a full-time position. It calls for hiring new counselors, nurses, custodians, field crews and a pair of mental health/social workers on a contract basis.
The budget would pay for 18 new people to help support teachers. These would be skilled teachers who would not be in a classroom, but would offer professional development for district teachers. They include four K-5 literacy coaches, 10 K-12 instructional coaches, two professional learning specialists, and two special-education staff trainers.
Beyond the general fund, $50.8 million will go toward debt service, and another $48.4 million will go toward major construction projects.
Another $5.1 million will fund after-school activities, and $1.8 million will purchase new school buses. All of these programs get their money from dedicated funding sources such as bonds, fees and direct state funding.
The school board is starting a summer recess, but the public comment period for the budget is open.
The board will hold a public hearing and adopt a budget at its Aug. 4 meeting.

 

New staff
The proposed budget calls for adding 66.35 full time positions. The jobs are considered FTE or full-time equivalent. While most of the time a single opening is filled by a single person, there could also be an option to, for example, hire two half-time people to fill the hours, or other combinations.
That number does not include new teachers, who will be added based on enrollment.
In the 2013-14 school year, the district had 2,372 positions. The percentage increase can not yet be determined, since the number of new teachers is not yet known.

  • 10 K-12 Instructional coaches
  • 4 K-5 Literacy coaches
  • 2 Professional learning specialists
  • 4 High school counselors
  • Up to 5 teachers for 7th period opportunities in high schools
  • 4.2 School nurses (5 positions)
  • 6.4 Special education high needs kindergarten support (para educators)
  • 1.6 Special education trainers to work with para educators
  • 2 Special education program secretarial support
  • 2 K-1 Quest specialists (teachers)
  • 4 Grounds crew/laborers
  • 6.75 Custodians
  • 1.7 Transportation dispatchers
  • 1 Crossing guards (instructional assistants)
  • 0.8 Tech operations messenger
  • 2.4 Elementary computer support instructional assistants
  • 2.5 Instructional assistants for in-school suspension alternatives (4 positions)
  • 1 Safety/compliance trainer
  • 1 Additional elementary teacher to provide staffing flexibility
  • 1 Volunteer coordinator
  • 1 Video/multimedia specialist
  • 1 Director of Curriculum
  • 1 Director of Student Services

On the web
For details about the proposed budget, including links to current and previous budgets, and where to offer comments, visit www.lwsd.org/News/publications/Pages/Budget-Summary.aspx.

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